CSTA Classroom Science

Keeping the Inspiration Flowing

As I walk the floor of the conference, eyes still a bit blurry from lack of sleep and head fuzzy from reviewing speeches and message triangles, I pause. Looking around, I am aware of a sea of smiles, laughter, and very animated story-telling. Feelings of excitement are palpable. A conference hasn’t felt this exciting to me since I attended my first one when I was, as a friend would say, a “baby educator.”

Something in the air has changed.

I would like to think that it was all because of our wonderful CSTA staff who, along with the volunteer board and conference committee, planned a great conference. We’ve worked really hard on it the past couple years. A new vision for workshop times to accommodate deeper learning, requiring more of workshop and short course proposals to help us decipher quality, thoughtfully choosing speakers and partners to help bring a rich experience for participants. But there was something in addition to this that made this year’s conference feel different than in the past; the stage has finally been set for quality educator professional learning. A trifecta of planning on CSTA’s part, more educators from across the state ready to start shifting instruction, and a large group of pioneering educators ready to share have allowed for some sort of a learning, inspiration, and connecting sweet spot.


The learning was extraordinary this year. We owe a lot to our pioneering educators – those that jumped on board a few years ago, ready to figure out what the NGSS would look like in classrooms without obvious step-by-step directions. In some cases, these educators had a supportive network of colleagues to march forward with. But there were also some who went at it alone. These pioneers were willing to lead the charge, try new things, taking it one step at a time, and are ready to now share what they learned. It was at this conference that I could clearly see the growth in these innovators and they wowed us all. Thank you pioneers, your hard work is encouraging others to move forward and to return home from the conference with a richer understanding of the potential of the NGSS.


Times of great change can be difficult, but they also provide an opportunity for inspiration. As Albert Einstein once reflected, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” It was clear there was much to inspire at the conference whether it was an idea gained from a workshop, seeing the world in a slightly different way while on a field course, or a new resource learned about in the exhibit hall. Hold on to these savory inspirational nuggets, they help carry you through the year and the day-to-day challenges of being an educator. You can also heed the advice of many of our pioneers who consistently echo the notion that one of the ways to continue fostering that inspiration is to also continue connecting.


It was easy to see that one of the very great joys of attending the California Science Education Conference is connecting with others. Sharing in the experiences with our colleagues, sitting next to someone in a session who quickly becomes a new friend, or seeing that one wonderful person whom you haven’t seen in years. Those connections help us down the road when we need to keep the inspiration and learning moving forward. CSTA has made a concerted effort to foster the ability of our educators to keep connecting long after the conference through outlets such as California Classroom Science, our Facebook groups, and Twitter (@cascience). Being a part of CSTA as a member and utilizing these resources is how you can continue the inspiration and learning.


Check out the #CAScience17 Storify, a collection of over 500 tweets sharing inspiration from the October 2017 California Science Education Conference.

Thanks to all of you who made the 2017 California Science Education Conference such a great experience. I look forward to doing it all over again with you next year in Pasadena. We have some clever plans up our sleeves for continuing the learning, the inspiration, and connecting and, if you can believe it, ramping up the excitement!



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Jill Grace

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director at the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd and President of CSTA (2017-2019).

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